As with most things, I blame Alex King. His post about re-tweeting wasn’t the first such condemnation of the practice, but it did inspire similar feelings in those close to him, culminating in today’s launch of Retweeters Anonymous by Gordon Brander.
From Alex’s rant:
You can get your favorites (or someone elses) in a JSON or RSS format, and do something interesting with them. Add them to your life stream, tumblog, FriendFeed, etc. This gives people an option to subscribe to that data, without cluttering your Twitter stream with the constant squawking of a parrot.
If we want to be honest with ourselves about the technical acumen of the average Twitter, this is impractical at best. Few will bother, and even fewer would know how even if they wanted to.
Personally, I hate the “RT” thing–reeks of webcockism and insiderness to me. Also, “RT” looks mechanized. “Via” seems more human.
I agree with Buzz on an aesthetic level, but I wonder what the real problem is. Are these people railing against word-for-word reposting, or are they bothered by people not using their preferred term? The real webcock thing to do is shun and ostracize people for using the “wrong” method for sharing something they find interesting. One step down is to pick on people for the things they find interesting enough to share.
Retweeting, as an act, is designed to take some bit of text or information and distribute it to the people who think you’re worth following. Maybe you put context around it, maybe you rephrase it, or maybe you think it’s perfect the way it is, but want to share it. Isn’t that thepoint of Twitter? This isn’t a chat room where everyone shares a single audience.
As with anything, moderation is key. I like my Twitter stream clean, and will unfollow someone for posting too much of anything. I crave original ideas and opinions, and will reward them with my attention and my trust. People with interesting things to say also tend to be good at spotting interesting things, and I have to put some faith in their ability to maintain a reasonable signal-to-noise ratio. If the noise becomes too much, I unfollow. Simple as that.
So that leaves the aesthetic question of via versus RT. As I mentioned earlier, I prefer via, but Twitter only gives you 140 characters. You have to make the best of it.
What bothers me about the anti-RT campaign is that it feels like a self-appointed committee deciding what’s cool. It’s pretentious and self-serving.
Theory: the people who send out “RT” tweets are the same fuckers who came in and ruined Usenet a decade ago.
Ironically, I stopped using Usenet because every conversation invariably devolved into a pedantic argument about how people should post to Usenet.